Retailers must engage customers to sell no-age whiskies, Booths buyer says

Retailers need to do more to engage consumers in the BWS aisles to bring new whisky expressions to life for consumers.

Northern retailer Booths

Northern retailer Booths

Speaking to db at the retailer’s recent tasting, Booth’s spirits buyer Pete Newton said although more original and non-aged whiskies could be “a challenge” at retail – and were unlikely to be massive volume sellers – having expressions that push the boundaries was important to attract new customers to the category.

The retailer was showing a selection of its whisky’s including non age statement single malt Kilchoman Sanaig Malt Whisky (RRP: £48), cult peated malt, Octomore Islay Barley Malt Whisky (RRP: £130) and cask strength Aberlour A;’bunadh Malt Whisky (RRP: £48) in addition to its newly boosted selection of local gins, which include Batch Gin from East Lancashire, Lakes Gin, Masons, Hepple and Cumbrian Kin Toffee & Vodka.

Newton said non-aged whiskies and young whiskies in particular needed to have “something to add, such as a real story” that consumers could buy into, but that staff also needed to communicate this in store.

“Where we have engaged in store, it has made a big difference, as well as online,” Newton told db, adding that it was easier for newer distilleries to move away from the traditional look and cues.

“Younger distillery doing well with new releases to keep it interesting, and if [they] are promoting no-aged whiskies, they can get away from traditional packaging and motifs like stag’s heads, and go sleek and reinvent themselves for a younger audience,” he added.

He pointed to the success of craft beer in introducing more highly hopped flavours as an example of why it was necessary, but admitted it was difficult to gauge the original and quirky with the more traditional choices, particularly if these were at a high price point.

 

“As people are coming out of aged statement, you need to give people who want an age statement something too. We’ve got to get the balance right, with something to follow that is great for traditional consumers. But younger people aren’t as bothered [about the age statement], it is about the flavour,” he said.

The northern retailer was also showing its new wines, which include a boosted English wine range, new Spanish and Italian wines, and its newly revamped own label range, which is in the process of going on shelf.

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